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Train bangkok - singapore

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Hi, I am going to Bangkok in October and was planning to go to Singapore from there. I learned that besides the Orient Express (expensive and not available the week I am there) there is a regular train going to Butterworth and then another from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur and finally Singapore. I also read that they have 1st class accomodations (we are two so that might make sense) and that it is better to reserve it ahead of time. We were thinking eventually to stop in Penang one night and then continue the next day.

My questions:
1 - Besides cost issues, I am convinced that going by train will show us a little more of the countryside. Is it true? Is it an interesting train ride? Is it worth the time?

2 - How are trains in Thailand/Malaysia? Are they safe and clean?

Thank you for the help. Any commenst/suggestions definitivey welcome.

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